In 2006, an accident changed Mary’s life forever. She was left permanently paralysed from the neck down. Life with spinal cord injury is hard but, with the right support, people like Mary can rebuild their confidence and independence.
A few years after her accident, Mary wanted to connect with people in a similar situation. That’s when she decided to get in touch with Back Up.
“I had my 50th birthday and I jokingly said to my family that I would a Back Up course when I came of age,” Mary said. The joke became a reality when Mary applied to go on a multi activity course in the Lake District.
Multi activity courses have been taking place at the Calvert Trust centres in Exmoor and the Lake District since 1989. Calvert Trust instructors are experts at being able to adapt a whole range of outdoor activities, so that people with spinal cord injury can participate as independently as possible.
“When I applied, I was anxious and I had never been away from home on my own since my injury,” Mary said.
During the course, Mary found it helpful to share experiences with volunteers and course participants who also lived with spinal cord injury.
Lake District Calvert Trust have hosted more than 70 courses that have helped over 350 people like Mary to regain their zest for life. “I did things doing the course that I never thought I would do again and it made me more optimistic about the future,” Mary said.
Some of the outdoor activities include indoor climbing, abseiling, kayaking, hand cycling and horse riding. Participants also have the opportunity to practise their wheelchair skills with Back Up volunteers.
“Everything on the course was brilliant and I had a fantastic week,” Mary said. “I got a lot out of the wheelchair skills training and I have been practising some of the tips.”
Mary’s favourite activity was to climb Latrigg, a hill that she had climbed before her injury. “It was exhilarating and I was crying tears of joy,” Mary said. “The view at the top was breath taking.”
The course at Calvert Trust helped Mary to feel more positive about her future. “I would really encourage everyone living with spinal cord injury to go on a Back Up course,” Mary said. “You won’t regret it.”
Partnering with organisations like Calvert Trust allows Back Up to help hundreds of people with spinal cord injury.
“We could not run our life changing courses without the support of organisations like Calvert Trust. Their teams including activity instructors, accommodation and back office staff ensure that people with spinal cord injury gain maximum benefit and challenge perceptions of what is possible,” Ally, Back Up Courses Manager, said.